By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to to a slow Sunday morning’s must-read hockey stories:
• Did the salvation of the Phoenix Coyotes crush the chances for a second team in the Toronto area? A former supporter of the project to build an NHL-ready arena in Markham, Ontario believes the league is focused on Seattle and Quebec City for expansion, and without a viable relocation option like the Coyotes on the market, he is ready to kill the financial framework that would make the building possible. Disappointing, but probably a prudent move … for now. The league has no timetable for expansion, and while there has been no official talk of favorites, he’s probably right about the league’s preferred locales. A new building was always going to involve some risk, but with the odds stacked against it, spending that money now seems almost foolish.
• Not sure if it’s fair to call an actual professor a “stats geek,” but one of ‘em ran the numbers and identified the summer’s worst free-agent signing. I’m guessing Pittsburgh fans won’t appreciate this. And, to be fair, the numbers don’t tell the whole story of what this vet brings to the table.
• There are three things that thrill Mike Babcock about new Red Wing Daniel Alfredsson. Alfie’s flowing locks may be a fourth, but Babs didn’t specifically mention it in this interview.
• Helene St. James writes that Niklas Kronwall is a top-value asset. Not sure he’s ideally framed as a No. 1 defenseman, but forced into the role by the retirement of Nick Lidstrom, he’s done everything the team could have hoped he would.
• Steve Simmons writes that the Senators should be punished for conspiring to circumvent the cap with Alfredsson, and touches on the free agency of Mikhail Grabovski and Ron Hainsey in this week’s Sunday column.
• What do Nail Yakupov, Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Galchenyuk have in common? No, they’re not the next players to be tagged as enigmatic Russians. They’re the top three players on NHL.com’s list of players set to break out this season.
• The Edmonton Oilers may have uncovered an oversized gem in 6-foot-5-inch center Bogdan Yakimov.
• Vancouver considered buying out David Booth this summer, but a dearth of talent on the wings means they have no choice but to keep him. What’s that say about the rest of the cast?
• The Flyers are asking their fans to come watch paint dry. And no, that’s not a come-on to help sell tickets when Calgary comes to town.
• Valeri Nichushkin is the consensus choice as the top prospect in the Dallas system. After the team’s top pick in 2013, things get a little murky . . .
• Adrian Dater offers up another installment of his hockey podcast. As always, it’s worth a listen — even when it’s not exactly focusing on hockey.
• Matt Sitkoff offers a list of five young players to target in fantasy hockey.